In honor of turning 40, I enjoyed a full month of birthday celebrations. It culminated in a romantic long weekend in New York City with my husband. We did a good mix of visiting friends and seeing tourist sites like the Empire State Building and the phenomenal Metropolitan Museum of Art – they have an actual wig from an actual Egyptian mummy!
Through an introduction from my travel writing buddy Annie Scott, we were able to get a great deal on four nights at the 70 Park Avenue, one of the beautiful luxury Kimpton properties in NYC, in a perfect location, two blocks south of Grand Central Station.
If you know the Kimpton line, then you’re familiar with their tradition of each hotel telling a story. The story of the 70 Park is “live life well” and they certainly do what they can to help you do just that, with a wine happy hour in the lobby every evening, Frette linens (which I wanted to steal) and a pillow bar.
A pillow bar might seem like a silly thing, but let me tell you, married people have BIG fights about things like pillows and it was a surprisingly delightful perk to have my nice firm foam pillow while my husband got to have his weird, squishy, totally uncomfortable down pillow.
Like all Kimpton properties, the 70 Park Ave is part of the admirable and extensive EarthCare green program, which includes in-room recycling, energy efficient water fixtures and non-toxic cleaning products.
Location Location Location
We stayed in a king deluxe on the 4th floor, in the front of the building overlooking the corner of Park Avenue and 38th Street. The convenient mid-town location on the East side, plus the proximity to Grand Central Station, meant we were close to everything. You have a Starbucks one block up the street, the gym is two blocks away, and the Empire State Building an easy five minute walk.
When you travel to NYC, you think “Tiny, space at a premium, be ready for cramped luxury.” So the size of the rooms at 70 Park Avenue was a delightful surprise. Good size (235 – 500 square feet), with a good sized window overlooking Park Avenue, and letting in lots of natural light but keeping out the street noises.
The rooms were made to feel larger by excellent use of mirrors and lighting. Huge mirrors covered most of the walls, and there were several area lights with individual controls.
Small, but cleverly designed, using all of the available space. The shower curtain was probably the best part. It had a curved curtain rail, so you get a little more space when you’re inside the shower. The L’Occitane bath amenities are my new favorite — I’m even thinking of buying the lavender conditioner.
But…the worst thing about the bathroom was the sliding door. I hate sliding doors on hotel room bathrooms. They never give you a good “sound seal”. Also, this one didn’t have a handle, so it was incredibly hard to get it to shut all the way. I’m sure there’s some cool sliding door trick, but I don’t know what it is.
Food and Drink
As I mentioned, the 70 Park Avenue does a wine happy hour every evening between 5 and 6. It was so nice to get back from a long, hot afternoon of sightseeing and be greeted with a a glass of wine from the sassy Mr. Patrick. And he didn’t even yell at me – well, maybe just a little – when I spilled my wine. In fact, he came right over and refilled my glass up to the very brim.
The Silverleaf Tavern is off the lobby, and you can get a nice buffet breakfast in the am and cocktails and food in the evening. If you do have breakfast there, brace yourself for the price: it was $70 for the two of us, although they were extremely nice and brought me scrambled egg whites, without an extra charge, when I asked for them. Before you chalk it up to NYC being expensive, on another morning we took a two block walk to a neighborhood diner and paid $30 total for the same basic meal.
The Mini Bar
Full fridge, with loads of great snacks and a wide variety of booze and soft drinks. I was able to resist the cashews (can you believe I forgot to write down the price?) but I did succumb to the siren song of Pringles at 3 am with a cold Corona! More usefully, the mini-bar area also contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, and a myriad of other things you need when you need them. It was like staying overnight in a Walgreens, which for some of us is a dream come true.
If You’re Going to Stay
I can highly recommend this as a location for travelers who want be somewhere central, safe, and comfortable. You’re close to everything, including the subway in Grand Central Station, and there is plenty to see within walking distance. The neighborhood is pretty dead at night but hey, it’s New York – if you want action, jump in a cab and $10 later you’re in a dive bar in the East Village, watching a 3 piece rock-a-billy band. Your luggage and everything else will be safe and sound back at your nice clean hotel, waiting for you to come sleep on the pillow of your choice!